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Man in half moon bow pose using one block for the arm reaching to the floor

Moksha, in English, represents liberation and freedom; the salvation of a soul from the cycle of life and death. Even though we’re practicing binds, we can still cultivate an energy of freedom in our breath and bodies.

“The cause of bandha and moksha (bondage and liberation) is our own minds. If we think we are bound, we are bound. If we think we are liberated, we are liberated. . . . It is only when we transcend the mind that we are free from all these troubles.” ― Sri S. Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali

When we think of what it means to apply liberation to our practice, often times we turn to poses that crack us open and spread our bodies open wide. Opening up your heart, body and mind is the ultimate freedom, and Ardha Chandra Chapasana embodies that freedom.

Let’s move into three warmup poses for Ardha Chandra Chapasana, or Half Moon (Sugarcane) Bow Pose.

Crescent Lunge (Ashta Chandrasana)

Man on a yoga mat in crescent lunge with two blocks

How to:

1. Starting in a tabletop position, plant your right foot forward in between your hands.
2. Align your right knee over the ankle. Students who are not as flexible or beginners may have their front knee slightly behind their ankle. This is okay as long as their front knee doesn’t go over the toes or ankles to protect the knee from injury.
3. Inhale and bring your hands to the top of your right thigh. Opt to bring your hands to heart center in a prayer position at your chest. Another option is to sweep your arms overhead and draw the shoulders away from the ears.
4. Keep your palms facing each other or together to touch.
5. Tuck your tailbone down towards the mat and allow your gaze to come either in front of you or if hands are overhead, towards the fingertips.
6. As you inhale, lengthen up through your crown and as you exhale, deepen the stretch.

Lizard with Quad Opener (Utthan Pristhasana)

Man in lizard with quad opener on yoga mat

How to:

1. Begin in Plank pose. Step your right foot outside of your right hand.
2. Align your front knee with your front ankle.
3. Place your left knee down on the floor.
4. Bring both of your hands on the inside of your right foot and begin to move your right foot closer to the edge of the right side of your mat.
5. Engage and activate your core and back leg muscles to keep you balanced.
6. Grab your left foot with your right hand and gaze over your right shoulder.
7. Stay here for several breaths. Release out of the pose gently and switch sides.

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Man in half moon pose supported by one block

How to:

1. From a Standing Forward Fold, bring your fingertips about 8 – 12 inches away from your feet.
2. Gaze forward and begin to shift your weight into your right leg.
3. Begin to lift your left leg up back towards the sky behind you – bringing it parallel to the mat or higher depending on flexibility.
4. Keep a soft bend in your standing knee to avoid locking it.
5. Lift your left arm up towards the sky as you keep your shoulders stacked over each other.
6. Keep your top hip stacked over the bottom hip and open your torso up to the left side of your mat.
6. To advance the pose, bring your gaze up towards the top fingers. If this is too much, keep your gaze softly towards the ground about 2-3 feet away from your toes.
7. To come out of the pose, release your hand and foot back down towards the mat coming back into Standing Forward Fold.

Peak Pose: Half Moon (Sugarcane) Bow Pose (Ardha Chandra Chapasana)

Man in half moon bow pose using one block for the arm reaching to the floor

How to:

1. Starting in Half Moon, take your top hand, reach it to your back mat as if you were going to shake someone’s hand.
2. Bend the knee of your lifted leg, bringing your heel to your seat.
3. Grab hold of your foot with your top hand.
4. Inhale to firm your top shoulder down your back and open up your chest.